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“I switched into Steve Irwin mode and grabbed its tail”: Cyclists wrestle 7ft python... in Kent

The massive snake – believed to have been abandoned at the side of the road – was spotted by two cyclists near Reculver

Here at, we’ve covered plenty of stories about cyclists coming into contact with animals out on the roads, from bears and bulls in North America to sheep in Yorkshire, but we have very rarely come across a two-wheeled encounter with a python… and in Kent of all places, too.

On Monday evening two cyclists, Toby and Rod, were riding on a country lane outside Reculver, near Herne Bay, when they spotted a huge snake lounging by the side of the road.

While other road users did their best to stay clear of the seven-foot python – believed to have dumped there by a previous owner – Toby and Rod decided, naturally, to stay with the creature while they called for help.

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“There was a cyclist coming the other way and he shouted, ‘Be careful there's a snake in the road’,” 45-year-old Toby told KentOnline.

“I looked at Rod and asked, ‘did he just say there was a snake in the road?’ and he said, ‘Don't be bloody stupid’.

“But we got round the corner and there it was, a huge seven- or eight-foot python soaking up the sun.

“It was a big size, I'm sure without a doubt it could take a dog, or even something bigger. If that thing was hungry, God knows what it would have eaten.

“It was in the full sun, in a sort of crouched attack mode – it was very alert. It also had blood coming from its mouth.”

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After failing to get through to the RSPCA, the two cyclists phoned the police. However, as they continued to divert traffic around the python, the snake attempted to escape into a neighbouring field, prompting Toby to channel his inner cycling version of Steve Irwin.

 “For its own safety and for the safety of others in case it got away, I switched into Steve Irwin mode and grabbed its tail,” he said.

“I pulled it back and that’s when it lurched around and lunged at me, with its mouth open. I certainly knew what it wanted to do.

“Thankfully it didn’t get me and then it stayed stationary in the road.”

At that point a van driver pulled over, who helped Rod wrestle the snake into a makeshift bag made from a dust sheet and some tape.

“He was seriously having to wrestle with it. Rod is a big guy but he had to wrestle this thing, it was tightening up around his arm. There were definitely a couple of hairy moments.

“They both did a grand job as I'm sure neither of them had handled anything more than a worm in their lifetime, let alone a 7ft python.”

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After the police, rather tentatively, were able to bag the snake up, it was then taken to Penfold’s Reptiles in Herne Bay, where the python was confirmed to be perfectly healthy and is set to make a full recovery before being rehomed.

For Toby and Rod, their close encounter with a massive python certainly wasn’t your average evening spin on the bike.

“It was quite different to just finding a pothole,” Toby says.

“We didn't fret or panic. We used logic and at the end of the day it's more frightened of you than you ought to be of it.

“You do what you think is right.”

Image: Niraj Mani Chourasia, Wikimedia Commons

Ryan joined in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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Surreyrider | 1 year ago

Ryan - 7-8ft isn't long so maybe tone down the massive and huge descriptions. 
And this is impossible unless he stole it back:

"believed to have dumped there by a previous owner"

jayinbarwell replied to Surreyrider | 1 year ago

"Massive" from a UK perspective perhaps, I agree with you though. I came across a 4 meterish python in Hong Kong when I lived there. It had eaten what looked to be one of the wild dogs there and was digesting it's catch peacefully in the middle of the road on Lantau Island. A local gent called the police who came to take it away. I asked if it was a big one (looked huge to me), the reply was, "not really, still has some growing to do."

DrG82 replied to Surreyrider | 1 year ago

To be fair to the writer, most of the descriptions are quotes from the people involved (see inverted commas). And anyway, I think most people in the UK would describe 7 foot as pretty big.

Surreyrider replied to DrG82 | 1 year ago

So that's a reason to ignore accuracy?

Huge and massive are both words written by the journalist, not contained in the quote.

I mean only a few days ago an 18-foot python was found in Florida - more than double the length. 

chrisonabike replied to Surreyrider | 1 year ago

Snake top trumps?

DrG82 replied to Surreyrider | 1 year ago

I think you need to remind yourself that you're reading semi-humerous article on a cycling website. This isn't a deep serious journalistic investigation published in a world renowned broadsheet.

chrisonabike replied to DrG82 | 1 year ago

I'd give half an arm for some semi-humerous articles today.  Well, maybe 1/4 of one.

jaspersdog replied to Surreyrider | 1 year ago
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Get over yourself. 99% of cyclists who stumbled across a 7-8ft snake on a road in the UK would think it was both "massive" and "huge", and they would be right because our native snake species rarely exceed 3ft. Making this snake "massive" and  "huge" by comparison.

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